Wednesday, February 11, 2009

David And Goliath

In the wealthy neighborhood of Greenwich, Connecticut, on Sunday, about 400 protesters stood in front of the behemoth home of a banker named William Frey. Earlier, protesters had formed in front of a banker's home in New York. And they are just getting started, according to NACA (Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America), the group that organized the protest. Apparently the protesters are creative too - they placed various pieces of furniture on the CT banker's lawn. "We did it to make them feel what it must be like for someone to have their home foreclosed upon," said an NACA mortgage counselor who was at the protest.

According to reports, the CT protesters started out in front of the guy's pool house, and it took one of the guy's neighbors to point them in the right direction. (Which I love, that a wealthy neighbor would give such a tacit thumbs up to the group's effort by helping them get the protest organized in the right direction.) Also, apparently one of the police officers who was ensuring that the protest was legal told the protesters that what they were doing was great - that his own sister had been evicted, and that as long as the protesters gave the police department prior notice, they could do these peaceful protests whenever they wanted.

And the banker's response? A quote from William Frey, from the above-linked article: "I could care less. It's really much ado about not much at all. They have a first amendment right to jump up and down and scream." Now there's a guy who knows how to win friends and influence people.

This all comes in the midst of news reports about how bankers won't loosen the purse strings for borrowers in trouble in spite of all the bailing-out money we have given them. They seem more interested in giving themselves bonuses.

When is the next protest? Are there any going on in Spokane? Can I go? (though likely in Spokane, our local bankers are being helpful - hmm - I'll find out and get back to you on that)

I do have one caveat. Any protest needs to be peaceful, MLK Jr.-style. I point this out only because there were some odd quotes in the above-linked article about NACA not intending a peaceful protest (even though everything they did seemed plenty peaceful). And NACA is also in the business of working with banks to help debtors come up with solutions to restructuring their mortgages so that the banks can forgo foreclosure, so it is my assumption that they are legitimately working within the boundaries of the First Amendment to make known their cause and opinion. Check out their website here.

Whatever is going on, something needs to happen. NACA is the first group to make that point in a tangible way. So I tip my hat to NACA and its 400 protesters for bringing attention to this issue in a peaceful but powerful way.

No comments: